*Yeah it worked out
The last couple weeks have been awesome because we released Memphis, a super delicious Brett and oak-aged beer. It’s the first time we’ve released anything like this on this scale, so it’s a kind of proof of concept that we’re very happy with! Ageing a beer is nervewracking – the last 9 months have been spent with fingers crossed hoping that we weren’t just letting 3,000 litres of beer go bad!
Let me give you the play-by-play of making this beer. Last winter we released Brown, our 6.5% Belgian-style dubbel, which was a lot of fun. One thing about the first year of business, though, is we really had no clue how much of that beer we would need. The first two weeks of sales were off the charts! So we decided to brew 3,000 more litres since we were OBVIOUSLY going to run out. Well January rolled around, the new batch was ready and, looking back at our sales records, I can see we sold 3 kegs that first week of the New Year. At that rate we were only going to sell out of the first batch in 4 months, never mind the second one.
Here I have to mention some stuff about money. We are a nomadic brewery at the moment, and brewing a batch costs us many thousands upfront for all the facility fees and ingredients and whatnot. We’d sunk about 10 per cent of our startup capital into brewing this beer, and if we were to have put it in kegs we would have tied up an additional $13,000 in stainless for pretty much ever. Obviously that wasn’t happening.
Quick thinking and a few phone calls later, we’d arranged for a shipment of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis from our friends at Escarpment labs. This beer was destined for some portable tanks in a storage locker on the edge of town. No, it wasn’t glamorous at the time, but we knew with the right treatment we could make it really, really good.
I would go back every month or so to sample the beer and monitor the fermentation and it wasn’t until July that Scott and I finally both agreed: this was turning into something magical! What really brought it over the top was the addition of French oak barrel wood spirals in September.
A note about the name: we’re always looking at other arts for inspiration in our beer, and the Memphis graphic design aesthetic really caught our eyes. Check that shit out on the “internet” if you have the chance! We loved the story of how these funky and fun designs started to become popular in the early 1980s in response to the sleek seriousness of the 1970s. We also thought it was funny and whimsical that a bunch of Italians decided to name their stuff Memphis without a reference to the city (it was a lyric in a Bob Dylan song). This beer is like that: a happy accident, and an occasion when a bunch of weird factors seem to come together perfectly in our favour.
I just had to add this video from Vox, which is super interesting if you want to know more about Memphis, the design group: